Fun with Web 2.0

Many ads reveal just how serious the company takes itself, and they make for unintentional comedy. Take, for instance, this jewel of a commercial. Not to dissect it too much, but there are a few elements going on that combine to make this commercial a complete and total farce. Not only does it have a (semi?-) celebrity starring in it, the song in the background is by none other than Justice, a French electronic music duo currently responsible making hipsters and music critics swoon world-wide. Oh yeah, they’re also responsible for one of this year’s biggest dance hits and for making a Grammy-nominated critically-acclaimed debut album.You can find lots of great examples of heatmaps at this site.

(Full disclosure: Having fallen into both of those aforementioned categories at several points in my life, and being a watered down Franco-American, I’m swooning too.)

Aaaaaanyway: The tagline for the commercial basically asks, “When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?”

Personally, I answer this question with an emphatic no. Of course, I drive this, which wouldn’t turn anybody other than little league dads on.

So I absolutely loathe this commercial for all of the reasons mentioned above, but particularly for that completely obnoxious tagline. Cadillac needs to get over itself.

A lot of people feel that way about Web 2.0 and, by extension, social media. And the good news is that they’re pretty funny about it. Take for instance Rdiculous, a submissions-based website that laughs at the proclivity certain websites have in leaving letters out of their name. Why is it that the letter “e” is always excluded? Is there some list of rules I didn’t read about?

There’s also the Web 2.0 Validator that allows you to enter a URL to see how Web 2.0 it is. People submit the categories the URLs are checked against (“Mentions Firefox” is a personal favorite) and they are hilarious.

One valid criticism with social media and Web 2.0 is that it supposedly gives everyone an over-inflated sense of self-importance. That’s true in a lot of respects, so websites like this are more than funny. They’re kind of vital: They offer some gentle policing. In a way, they keep everyone from running away with the spotlight and power Web 2.0 and social media give us.

Have you run across any more sites like these? Do you think social media and Web 2.0 cause this issue?


But How Can I Tell It’s Working

You can’t really blame your clients for asking you, however nettlesome it may be. They are dumping a lot of money into a social media marketing campaign.

Everybody knows this by now: It can be so hard to measure the effectiveness of a Social media campaign that clients often lost hope and interest. I think the most important thing you can do is to repeatedly reiterate from the start that SMM is indirect marketing and that its results are very difficult to measure. You can’t assemble a sample study or a test group. Nobody ever answers those “How did you hear about us?” polls websites have. There are no taglines or jingles to get stuck in peoples’ heads.

The “indirect marketing” and “It’s going to take time” points really can’t be stressed enough. Even more than marketing, SMM is online branding. You might not ever know when one comment on one forum might send a client your way.

To me, sometimes SMM seems like the Internet version of “Deadwood.” But it doesn’t have to be. Think of analytics and statistics as restoring the order to this Bizarro World version of the wild, wild west. Ok, this metaphor is getting a little convoluted, but you get what I mean.

Analytics are the tangibles you can deliver your clients. Rely on the website’s host’s stats. Get Google Analytics. Use Feedburner when you can. Get several sources of stats to show your clients.

Even social bookmarking sites can help in this regard. Search Digg, Del.ico.us, Reddit and the like for your site or blog. It shows you how many people have bookmarked your content through their site or what content of yours is being submitted. This is as close to word-of-mouth as it’s going to get.

Set up as many newsfeeds as possible and check the number of subscribers. Submit any video content you have to YouTube and check that number, too.

Above all things, a SMM campaign takes time. Use every available stat and analytic service you can to keep your clients minds at ease while the campaign gains momentum and effectiveness.

The bottom line is to remind your clients that social media marketing isn’t like traditional marketing and advertising. The point is to spread brand awareness. Social media marketing still might seem a bit mysterious, but customers trust it for the same reason they trust word-of-mouth advertisement: They are hearing about it from other people like them. That can be more valuable than any tagline.

Suh-wing and a miss!

Everybody knows that email pitching is a necessary part of not just a social media marketing campaign, but also of increasing your blog’s readership. It’s an art, though. Think of it like this: You can’t email the managing editor of a major newspaper with the latest news on, say, your community’s chapter of the Texas Federation of Republican Women and expect a response, right? Well, you can’t just email a blogger and expect him or her to fawn all over your product just because you say so. It’s just not going to happen.

Before you ask something from a blogger, contribute something. Subscribe to their RSS feed and comment on at least one post a day. At least. Submit their content to social bookmarking sites – bloggers often check to see where their content is and will notice who is submitting it. Add them to your blogroll and mention or link to their blog in your posts as you see fit.

Do that for awhile before you would even think about emailing the blogger. You’re not trying to fool them into thinking you’re a fan so you can mooch off their readership or influence. You’re trying to contribute to their community and show them that you’re legit.

Here’s the tricky part though. Even when you do email the blogger, don’t launch into your product, blog or website on your first email. Start exchanging emails with the blogger. They might ascertain that you’re eventually going to pitch something to them, but they will most likely respond better to a little finesse.

Anyway, bloggers are writers. Writers love to hear their work praised. Start by mentioning a specific post that you liked and what you found appealing or helpful about it.

Oh yeah: DON’T lavish love on their most recent post. I’m telling you; bloggers live to pick feeble marketing strategies like that apart. Let them know you’re a long time reader and poster. Let them know what you’ve submitted where and that they’re on your blogroll. Don’t mention your pitch until you’ve exchanged a few emails.

When you do make your pitch, hopefully, you’ll have a better sense of how best to communicate with the blogger and your communication will be more natural. You want your blogger to appreciate and respect you, too.

Blogging is such an organic form of communication that it shouldn’t come as a shock to know that bloggers don’t want to be manipulated into endorsing something.